There are many different theories and methodologies around change management, and in this weeks’ post I won’t be going deeply into them.
Instead, I’ll just focus on 4 key points that I believe are relevant to leading change successfully, especially when that change is implementing or driving new customer experience initiatives.
So let’s dive in…
Involve all Tiers of the Organisation
This one is kind of a no-brainer, but I think something that gets taken for granted. Ensuring the involvement of people at all levels within an organisation is a massive factor in gaining buy-in and leading successful change.
I’ll talk about two ways organisations can do this:
- Involve people of different levels in the decision making process
What I mean by this is to get people in early. For example, let’s say you have identified that you need a customer experience strategy, or just need to improve the customer experience. I would look to get people involved, perhaps 2 spokes people from each department, or if your company is too large for that, split it up into something that makes sense.
Then with a plan in place, go to this group of people and involve them in process, get their ideas and perspectives. People in customer service, IT and finance will all have different interactions with your customers and will be able to provide insights that you may not even know about.
There are a few things to consider with this option – you will need to allow time for this to happen, and in order for this to work and for people to feel like they are a part of the process, you need to listen to them, and take on what they are saying.
- Find advocates and ensure that they are involved so that they can spread positive messages
Perhaps you have already made all the decisions and now you are looking to roll out a new initiative, like a customer experience program.
A great way to help boost that process and lead the change is by getting buy-in from some key people. Again, get all your managers together as you usually would, but then ask them to nominate one or two people in their teams to come along with them on the journey. These people will then be your super users or advocates. This is your opportunity to communicate the change, inspire and captivate the audience in order to really drive a positive reaction to the change.
Open Transparent Communication
So this is obvious, but quite often it is done very poorly. As with everything in life, communication is the key. Communication is essential in driving positive and lasting personal and professional relationships and that’s not different when you are leading change in an organisation.
There are many ways to create an open and transparent environment and there are lots of strategies and initiatives that companies can take.
However, when communicating change it important to be clear and open with:
- Why you/organisation are/is making a change
- What the organisation can expect from the change
- When the organisation can expect the change
- How staff can ask questions about the change
- Where staff can get support around the change
- What we can communicate to clients and or suppliers
Another point in communication that I will stress is that people don’t expect a leader to be perfect.
Personally, I admire the people who can:
- Admit they are learning
- Be open about getting better through feedback
- Admit that they don’t have all the answers
- Be honest when they have made a mistake and take steps to fix it and learn from it
It is so important to engage your employees because without your employees there is no customer experience!
Obviously, involvement is a great way to engage employees; however, there are some other things you can do to help your employees to engage and be focused on the customer experience.
Some ways include:
- Setting up awards and recognition programs – perhaps set it up so that it’s not so much about the store with the highest NPS score, but the store that consistently has above XX on their NPS. So showing consistent commitment to customer experience
- Make customer experience visible – use tools to help visualise customer feedback (like the BSA)
- Empower staff to make decisions that will leave customers feeling good – look at how you can create policies or procedures that will empower frontline staff to make customer centric decisions
- Involve your staff and ask for input – if your staff are the ones speaking to your customers, why not ask them for ideas on how to improve the customer experience and brain storm with them about ways to further delight the customer.
Assess and Adapt
This is all about understanding that you may not get it right the first go. As with all changes and all things new, leading change is an iterative process and requires you to be agile and adaptable in your approach. Be ready to make mistakes, be ready to tweak a process and you will be well on your way to making a positive impact and change.
In today’s volatile world leaders need to be able to assess situations and decisions and then adapt quickly. Leading with a ‘learn and evolve’ or iterative attitude is a powerful way to motivate employees allowing for change and innovation that could drive your company to further success.